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PhD Candidate Alyssa DeSimone awarded SFPE grant

Her research in structural fire engineering focuses on modeling fire spread in large compartments.

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Alyssa DeSimone

PhD Candidate Alyssa DeSimone has been awarded a $5,000 student research grant from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) Educational and Scientific Foundation for her project, “Novel Fire Spread Model for Large Compartments.” 

Working under the direction of Associate Professor Ann Jeffers, DeSimone’s research will seek to model how fire spreads in large compartments such as atriums or areas with high ceilings or open spaces, as DeSimone argues that current design fires assume uniform burning more typical in buildings with smaller rooms. 

“Structural fire engineering combines two different fields of study, fire dynamics and structural engineering. In the past, many important research questions in this field have been approached from only one school of thought. I hope that my work can bridge this gap in the field by studying structural response to complex and realistic fire dynamics, and by doing so, pave the way for the design of safer and more robust structures in fire,” says DeSimone.

Using computational fluid dynamics, DeSimone will model non-uniform heating of structural elements. Her hope is that her model will result in economic, sustainable and safe structural fire designs. 

“Every year, structural fires in the U.S. cause thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in property damage. I am passionate about structural fire engineering because it has the potential to save lives and livelihoods,” DeSimone says. 

Each year, the SFPE awards up to $25,000 in research grants for students working in fire protection engineering or fire safety science. Recipients are expected to present their research at the annual SFPE conference or a similar forum. 


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Mason Hinawi

Marketing Communications Specialist
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering